As of Friday nearly 24,000 reusable cloth masks had been distributed across the Cayman Islands by the Community Policing Branch of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
These include some 21,500 on Grand Cayman, 2,300 on Cayman Brac and 87 on Little Cayman. A further 41,000 are still to be distributed. The purpose of the masks is to reduce the chances that individuals positive for the viral illness COVID-19, which spreads via droplets, may be able to infect other persons.
While distribution of masks only began last week Director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands Danielle Coleman explains that the procurement of the masks began some time ago as a special project of the National Emergency Operations Centre.
“When it became clear that we would be moving towards everyone needing to wear a mask in public places, an immediate challenge was how we would source and then distribute reusable masks to all persons across the Cayman Islands. The Support Services cluster which combines procurement, negotiating and logistics skills as well as private sector contacts took the lead on this project and were able to source the required amount at a reasonable price”, Ms Coleman says.
Support Services ultimately procured a total of 100,000 masks, half from Jamaica and half from American corporation Hanes, at a total cost of USD150,000. The DART Group helped procure the masks from the US, which had not originally been intended to be sold outside the country.
Those purchased from Jamaica are in use by various public safety agencies including the Police and the Jamaica Defense Force. Meanwhile the Hanes masks have been approved by both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control in the United States.
To ensure nationwide distribution Support Services partnered with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. As of late last week this resulted in teams of Community Police Officers and Community Safety Officers going door-to-door across the three Islands.
Inspector Courtney Myles, who heads the Community Policing Department of the RCIPS, comments that the masks have already reached nearly all the population on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Meanwhile about 25 percent of the Grand Cayman total has been delivered.
“We thought this was the perfect project for our community team. We are on the ground daily, and as such we know people and their circumstances at the neighbourhood level. Our capability to go door to door also means that we can properly map and manage the distribution process in a way that is fair to all.” Inspector Myles remarks:
Flyers with instructions for the care and proper use of the reusable cloth masks are also being provided to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Masks are also being provided to frontline personnel within public safety and customer facing agencies such as RCIPS, Prison Service, Customs and Border Control, Airports Authority and Water Authority.
With local businesses such as supermarkets now requiring persons to wear face-coverings to gain access, Community Police Officers have also been on site at all locations with a limited supply of disposable masks to give anyone who comes without one.
They will also be included in the return-to-work personal protective equipment kits for all Cayman Islands Government entities, as well as Statutory Authorities and Government Companies, in preparation for phased reactivation of the public service.
New public health regulations require all persons in the Cayman Islands, over the age of two years old, to wear a face covering when indoors in a public place and unable to maintain a distance of six feet from other persons.
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee thanked NEOC including the Support Services Team and the RCIPS for working to ensure that all persons in the Cayman Islands are able to comply with the legislation as quickly as possible.
Additional information about how to wear masks and what kinds of masks are safe to wear is available from www.exploregov.ky/coronavirus.
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